Budget Travel: How Low Can You Go?

Marysol Castro opts for a hostel with bunk beds, bar and indoor pool.

ByABC News via GMA logo
March 21, 2009, 5:07 PM

March 22, 2009— -- When given the assignment to take an adventure trip on the cheap, I was nervous, I have to admit. I'm seven months pregnant, flying is not so much fun and my cohorts had taken up all the Spanish-speaking places I would have loved to have visited. The big boss said "go to Europe!" -- and since the dollar is doing so well there (not!), how could I say no?

It turns out I could travel to Europe -- Italy of all places -- and not break the bank. Florence was my destination of choice. My producer, Courtney, thought we should try out "designer hostels." We had to save money on something. Now, I've stayed in hostels in developing nations. They're not so nice. They rarely have hot water and you usually have to share everything with everyone. I'm 34 years old, and I've since stayed at places nicer than hostels. I wasn't sure what a designer hostel, even in a posh city like Florence, would have to offer.

Click here to find out where Marysol stayed, what she ate and what she did in Florence, Italy.

The best hot shower ever -- that's what! Plus the hostel in Florence had a swimming pool, a bar and lounge, clean bedsheets and a private bath and bedroom. Granted, we had bunk beds, but Courtney agreed to take the top bunk. Thanks, Court! For 30 euros a night, it wasn't bad. Dare I say it was nice.

In 48 hours, I managed to do a lot. I knew there was a lot of art to take in and food to digest. This would require a lot of euros too--or so I thought. It turns out for every museum that costs from eight to 20 euros, there are piazzas and gardens boasting the same beautiful artwork for free. Yeah, I missed the Ufizzi Museum, but I got to see Neptune in all his glory, a church Michaelangelo built with his own hands, endless statues, sculptures and architecture. And I saw it all for free.